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Peter Rock

Wow. What a story.

When you ask - "What would you do?" are you asking on the level of the children involved in this particular incident? Or are you asking on a broader scale? I ask because this is incredible anecdotal evidence of how high-stakes standardized testing mandated from above can negatively impact student behavior. It basically trickled its way down to the state, to the district, to your school, to the staff (implementing behaviorist bribes), to the students, and finally, to the "Poor Man's Mimosa". This is the kind of stuff that doesn't get recorded statistically. This is the stuff that the outsiders don't see but you get stuck dealing with. So when you ask what to do, I would make sure every policy maker as high as the ladder goes hears this story. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that the children are innocent - they made a bad choice. But it is clear that anyone who might want to just write it off as "kids these days!" is not seeing the bigger picture. And the really stubborn may try to claim that there is no connection. But you know - and all other educators know - that students DO NOT like taking standardized exams (especially with such frequency). Surely we need no study to prove that when students are not happy with their learning environment, they tend to express that.

As for the children in this particular case? I don't know as I don't know them at all. But meeting with the parents and students to discuss the incident seems like the obvious and reasonable first step. Perhaps that is enough.

Thanks for sharing this.

Jan Borelli

Well, Peter, here's what I did:

I talked to each student and got their side of the story (due process). I confirmed that they had, indeed, partook of that nasty elixir. I suspended them for one week (minimum time for drug/alcohol issue in our district) and then made them attend school during spring break. I also required that all go through the counseling program at our school. One little girl ended up going to an alternative school.

Peter Rock

I'm certainly not going to suggest an alternative as I'm not intimate with the case, though I question the idea of using school itself as a punishment (i.e. "made them attend school during spring break"). It sounds similar to the idea of making students write essays as a "consequence" of inappropriate behavior. That's one way to encourage kids disdain toward writing. Perhaps this reinforces (or creates) the idea that school is a place where kids do not want to be. Obviously, that's not what we want...but we should consider the possibility of that fallout.

I'm also not a fan of suspending students unless demonstrating obvious signs that they're an endangerment to themselves or others (e.g. it's likely the student will engage in fighting)...but it sounds like your hands are tied with respect to the district policy.


Hmm...Peter I am not sure if I agree...I think bring and consuming alcohol at school might be endangering others...I certainly would not want mine own grammar school age children to have to deal with that at school.
We have had a couple of drinking at school incidents and though we did not have to suspend them for a week we did suspend them...( after as you said Jan appropriate due process) But my real concern was that the parents and children got counseling...So often what is happening at school is also happening in outside of school too. And while the testing may have contributed I doubt that it was not the only factor that led to the drinking....

Glenn E. Malone

Immediate Action:
1) Investigate
2) Contact Parents
3) 3 - 5 day Short Term Suspensions
4) Drug & Alcohol counseling

I like the school during Spring Break idea!

Where was the teacher?

Peter Rock

Barbara says:

"Hmm...Peter I am not sure if I agree...I think bring and consuming alcohol at school might be endangering others"

Of course. The question is - "In this case, is it likely to happen again?" and Jan is in the best position to answer that. You're implying that I don't think that children getting drunk at school is dangerous. My point is, if suspension is being used as a deterrent rather than a reasonable measure of protection, the wrong approach is being implemented.

Glenn says:

"I like the school during Spring Break idea!"

Glenn, can you please explain why?

Jan Borelli

I would like to cover for the teacher and say that they were on the playground (huge area); but the fact is that this happened in the classroom after the benchmark while he let them take a break by sitting on cushions and reading to each other. He was broken hearted about it and defensive; his first years of teaching (before I met him) were not happy, and he was afraid bad things were happening again and questioned himself. He's the kind of teacher who is his own worst critic; and I actually had to bring him through the experience. I am happy to report that everything is fine and dandy and the drug/alcohol counseling has been extremely successful. It's actually given us a chance to explore these issues and bring our discussions out in the open.

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